Apr 18, 2009 - 10:50 am
I've been reading horror stories and I've been reading very positive stories on this and other bulletin boards. I would like to spend a few minutes on the good side of things. I wanted to share a positive story, mine, with all of those who are trying to figure out what to do and are facing surgery soon. Share my experience with those who wonder how bad things can be and if there is really a light at the end of the tunnel.
I am 58 and earlier this year was diagnosed with prostate cancer. My PSA score was only 4.6 at the time, however it was double compared to what it was a year before. Reason enough for my doctor to suggest a biopsy. Good call, as I went through a painless biopsy, 10 core samples were taken and in two of them a small cancer amount was discovered. As I've had my PSA checked every year for the past 5 years, the lesson I learned and am now sharing with everyone is get your annual physical -and- keep track of all your blood work done and scores so you can spot any irregularities. Key here is to catch something early!
Anyway, with a Gleason of 3+3 and a small amount of cancer spotted in the biopsy I was lucky. I got there on time.
I went through the same shock, concerns, questions, feelings that everyone else goes through. It is amazing how many people have this cancer and it is amazing how much is written about it. With so many people walking around with PC there are lots of options now, which doesn't make it easier to make one though. I talked to a friend who used seeds, I read about surgery and radiation and waiting, however my initial feeling of 'just cut it out' stayed with me during my investigations. My doctor, a Kaiser urologist, gave me 2 weeks to do research and I needed those 2 weeks to read and see if I would change my decision.
After research we (Yes my very supportive wife included) decided to stick with my initial decision to cut it out. The next step was to figure out what would be best. There were so many positive comments about the daVinci robotic surgery that my conclusion was that that was the way to go. I checkout out the video at the daVinci web site, I read about it on blogs and bulletin boards, and I felt that this would be my best choice. Next was to find one.
We were with Kaiser and you know Kaiser is an insurance company, so we were ready for anything to fight the system or go outside the system and borrow money to get the daVinci done on our own dime if needed. To my surprise Kaiser in Northern California had a daVinci system in Walnut Creek. My urologist did not have the experience needed so he himself suggested we talk to someone within the system who performs the surgery on a regular basis. Not only does he work the robot, he is also experienced with Open surgery, just in case. Dr. Martinez from San Francisco urology department was extremely helpful and open and took his time to explain everything. We felt good with Dr. Martinez. We talked about the performance of the robot, how many times did it have to be rebooted, what if it get stuck before surgery, what if during, etc etc. My decision was to stick with a surgeon who not only had the experience on the robot but could also take over the 'old fashioned' way if something failed during surgery. My decision was also not to accept open surgery even if I was in the OR and ready to be operated on. Wake me up and bring me back later was what I told them and they accepted that without a problem.
Not of that was needed. Last Friday I got operated on, the Kaiser staff was introduced to me in the OR, I checked out the robot which is a very impressive piece of equipment and under I went. Dr. Martinez is very careful and it took over 5 hours to take care of me. He explained that he removed the vessels as well as the prostate and was able to use nerve sparing techniques on both sides. I went home the following morning after I showed them all that I could walk around on my own. The fear of the catheter was not needed, here I am walking around with a plastic bag and all I can say is: I can drink 24 hours a day and all I have to go is empty the bag every now and then. I drink a lot of water and now I am just waiting to get the catheter removed next week.
The catheter? Not as much of an issue as I expected. I have a large and a small bag. The small bag fits easily around the leg so I can walk and work and enjoy the outdoors. I tried that one but came to the conclusion that with a bit of work I could do the same with the large bag and hold a little more pee in my baggy pants.
So here I am, lucky I understand, but I am walking, back to work part time with my baggy on my leg, enjoying being with my wife who has been very supportive during all my decisions and has done a tremendous amount of work during research and is supporting me now to feel Ok with all of this. On top of that, and this part is maybe hard to believe, I have had 2 erection already! This doc did an amazing job I can tell you. A bit difficult to have an erection with a catheter coming out of your penis, but 5 days after surgery having surgery, it could happen to you!
So, again, yes I am lucky and with a bit of luck removing the catheter will be less painful or uncomfortable as I expect it to be, but look at it from the bright side. Things worked out and now the thing is gone I most likely won't have to deal with it anymore. I'll get my PSA test in May, that will be the next hurdle, but I am comfortable and optimistic that this will work out also. I'm 'only' 58 and will be able to pee like a young man for the rest of my life.
Stay positive! Good luck to everyone and talk to people, not just the ones with bad stories but also the good ones. Peace to everyone.